Our Organization

The CMPD Crime Lab has five specialized sections that provide state-of-the-art forensic analytical services for this police department as well as municipal, state, and federal law enforcement agencies in Mecklenburg county. 

The Crime Lab is accredited by the American Society of Crime Laboratory Directors / Laboratory Accreditation Board (ASCLD/LAB). Forensic analysis is conducted in the disciplines of serology/DNA, controlled substances, blood alcohol, fire debris, latent prints, firearms, toolmarks and questioned documents. The laboratory uses some of the latest database technology available to the forensic community such as CODIS, IBIS, AFIS and IAFIS​.



Questioned Documents<div class="ExternalClassA19B6423EB4B4D98A69EFCD0A75BA062"><div style="margin-left:7px;margin-right:7px;"><div style="display:inline;">The Questioned Document Examiner is responsible for conducting analysis on any document when there is a question about its origin or authenticity.<br><br><img alt="questioned document sample" src="/CMPD/Organization/PublishingImages/SupportSvcs/questioneddocs.jpg" style="padding-left:13px;padding-bottom:13px;float:right;" />​​The QD Section typically conducts examinations of handwriting, handprinting, typewriting, inks and counterfeit items. Documents are also examined for evidence of indented writing, alterations and obliterations.<br><br>Specialized spectrographic instrumentation and computer enhancement is often used to examine the evidence documents. Evidence items typically submitted to the section include forged and/or altered checks, threatenin​g letters and bank robbery notes.​ </div></div></div>
Biology Section<div class="ExternalClass549D1C5E33684522A6CF8B5270C1756E"><div style="margin-left:7px;margin-right:7px;"><div style="display:inline;"> <img alt="DNA detection" src="/CMPD/Organization/PublishingImages/SupportSvcs/MicroDNA.jpg" style="padding-left:13px;padding-bottom:13px;float:right;" />The Biology Section is responsible for analyses in serology/DNA.<br><br>Serology is concerned with the examination and identification of bodily fluids. Evidence items found at a crime scene might be submitted to determine if they exhibit biological stains such as blood, semen or saliva that may be identified to a specific individual. Rape kits taken from a victim at a hospital are an example of evidence that would be analyzed in this section.<br><br>DNA analysis is used to compare evidence samples such as the serological stains above to known standards from a victim or suspect. This section utilizes a DNA database system known as CODIS (Combined DNA Index System).<br><br>​This system links labs nationwide in order to compare DNA profiles (unique genetic markers). It can link suspects and victims to each other or to specific crime scenes. It can also be used to link multiple cases such as serial rapists.</div></div></div>
Fingerprint Section<div class="ExternalClass98CFFDA2E874415B99F559DF75A44B2A"><div style="margin-left:7px;margin-right:7px;"><div style="display:inline;"> <img alt="dusting for fingerprints" src="/CMPD/Organization/PublishingImages/SupportSvcs/dusting4prints.jpg" style="padding-left:13px;padding-bottom:13px;float:right;" />Four full-time Latent Print Analyst and an administrative officer staff this section. They use a variety of powders, chemicals, and alternative light sources to visualize latent fingerprints from a variety of different materials and surfaces.<br><br>Techniques include the relatively simple powder processing to sophisticated processing chambers, fluorescent powders and chemicals that react with the biological properties of the fingerprint.<br><br><img alt="fingerprints" src="/CMPD/Organization/PublishingImages/SupportSvcs/Latents.jpg" style="padding-left:16px;padding-bottom:7px;" /><br><br>The section also maintains extensive files containing thous​ands of suspect fingerprint cards used for comparison to latent fingerprints lifted from crime scenes.<br><br>The latent examiner can capture digital images of fingerprints that can be searched against those in a statewide syst​em utilizing a database known as the AFIS (Automated Fingerprint Identification System). They also have the ability to utilize the Integrated Automated Fingerprint Identification System (IAFIS).</div></div></div>
Firearms & Toolmarks Section<div class="ExternalClass797582A541EC440E92CECEB4BBD43A66"><div style="margin-left:7px;margin-right:7px;"><div style="display:inline;">This section employs three firearms examiners and an IBIS technician. Services provided by this section include determining operability of various types of firearms, bullet and cartridge case comparisons, determining the type of firearm from which a bullet or cartridge case was fired, serial number restoration, gunshot residue examinations and range determinations, toolmark comparisons and footwear & tire comparisons.<br><br>Each year more than 1000 firearms are submitted to the section, the majority of which are test fired and checked for operability. The section maintains a reference collection of various firearms and ammunition that can be used to assist in the identification of firearms and fired ammunition evidence submitted from crime scenes.<br>​<br>​<img alt="gun storage" src="/CMPD/Organization/PublishingImages/SupportSvcs/firearms_storage.jpg" style="padding-right:13px;padding-bottom:7px;float:left;" />​An indoor water recovery tank and a bullet trap allow the analysts to fire a variety of firearms on site and collect discharged ammunition component specimens for comparison and IBIS entry. After ammunition components are collected, the firearms examiner uses a comparison microscope to look at two items simultaneously in an attempt to determine if they were fired from the same firearm.<br><br>The IBIS, which stands for Integrated Ballistics Identification System, is part of a national database network (NIBIN – or National Integrated Ballistics Identification Network) that contains the images of evidence and test-fired bullets and cartridge cases. Each specimen that is entered into the IBIS is compared to thousands of other specimens in the southeastern United States in an effort to link incidents where this type of evidence is recovered from crime scenes.<br><br>​<img alt="gun storage" src="/CMPD/Organization/PublishingImages/SupportSvcs/firearmanalysis.jpg" style="padding-right:13px;padding-bottom:7px;float:left;" />​<br><br>​Searches against other regional databases within the United States are done by request. Between the beginning of 2001 and the end of 2004, use of the IBIS has resulted in over 70 “hits” that were confirmed as positive identifications by a firearms examiner.​</div></div></div>
Chemistry Section<div class="ExternalClass273FB07749EE43D09364FA1FB079D8F8"><div style="margin-left:7px;margin-right:7px;"><div style="display:inline;"> <img alt="instrumental analysis" src="/CMPD/Organization/PublishingImages/SupportSvcs/chemmachine.jpg" style="padding-left:13px;padding-bottom:13px;float:right;" /> The Chemistry Section of the Laboratory employs three full-time chemists to provide analytical identification services. These individ​uals are responsible for illicit drug identification, fire debris analysis in arson cases, and blood alcohol analysis to assist investigations involving DWI incidents.<br><br>Suspected drug items are carefully weighed and samples are taken for instrumental analysis. The analyst searches the computer library attached to the Gas Chromatograph Mass Spectrograph (GCMS) for a match of an unknown drug for an investigation.<br><br><img alt="chemistry lab" src="/CMPD/Organization/PublishingImages/SupportSvcs/chemmachine.jpg" style="padding-right:13px;padding-bottom:13px;float:left;" />​​Investigators collect debris from fires scenes in sealed cans for the chemist. A possible accelerant will be extracted by heat and chemicals.<br><br>The extracted material is injected into the Gas Chromatograph (GC). In some cases the debris from the scene may contain a substance that conceals accelerant pattern data. The GCMS will be used if more detailed information is needed to confirm a match with a known accelerant. </div></div><div style="margin-left:7px;margin-right:7px;"><div style="display:inline;"><br></div></div><div style="margin-left:7px;margin-right:7px;"><div style="display:inline;"> <img alt="analysis under a chemscope" src="/CMPD/Organization/PublishingImages/SupportSvcs/chemscope.jpg" style="padding-right:13px;padding-bottom:13px;float:left;" /> <br> <br>When a subject is unable to blow into the intoxilizer for breath alcohol analysis, tubes of blood will be taken for determining ethyl alcohol level.<br><br>Samples of blood will be injected into the Gas Chromatograph and the resulting ethanol amount will be recorded in grams per 100 milliliters. Levels of 0.08 or above are considered legally impaired. Results as high as 0.40 have been recorded. </div></div></div>